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Monday, August 20, 2012
Less Payne, More DeRo

By Jeff Carlisle

It wouldn’t be a normal week in MLS without a litany of complaints about the refereeing. That’s what makes the sentiments of D.C. United captain Dwayne De Rosario all the more refreshing.

Without question, this past Sunday's craziness in the match between D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union -- in particular the last 26 minutes -- provided plenty of fodder for criticizing referee Mark Geiger. To recap, the period in question had what looked to be a perfectly legitimate equalizer by United’s Nick DeLeon waived off by Geiger, a converted penalty by De Rosario that was ordered retaken due to encroachment and then missed, plus three red cards.

Geiger’s decision on De Rosario’s spot kick drew the biggest complaints from United, with club president Kevin Payne telling The Washington Post that “the penalty is like a high school call.”

Judgment calls will always leave referees open for criticism. Geiger’s decision to disallow DeLeon’s goal for what looked to be a phantom foul by Hamdi Salihi on Union keeper Zac MacMath seemed especially egregious. But the decision to order the penalty retaken seems right, even if it is rare.

Then again, it’s not that rare. In fact, it’s not even the first time that a retaken penalty was missed in MLS this season. On July 18, San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski missed his retake against FC Dallas after Justin Morrow had encroached on the first attempt. The difference? The Earthquakes still went on to win the game 2-1. In United’s case, Payne might as well have said, “How dare the referee enforce the rules as they’re written.”

It was left to De Rosario then to talk everyone down from the ref-bashing cliff. The United captain took the high road and blamed no one but himself for the two points lost, telling the Post, “I still should have scored it.”

In a league in which excoriating referees is a weekly occurrence, it’s too bad such sentiments aren’t conveyed more often.